王 兴 伟
Painter *1969 Shenyang, Liaoning, lived in Shanghai (2002), since 2007 in Beijing
Not otherwise credited photos are from Urs Meile Galleries Beijing/Lucern
Wang Xingwei, 2011, photo CAFA
“Wang Xingwei is one of the most
peculiar painters I have ever met,” writes
Monica Dematté, 2004. “His production shows, on the whole, an
astonishing variety. A rather enigmatic person, his reflexive
silences are often interrupted by spontaneous and generous laughter.
Day after day, and with great lucidity, he has built up the
recognition which nowadays people accord to him both at home and
abroad. He absolutely refuses, however, to allow that recognition to
limit his free will or the critical and corrosive vein to his
His strategy has been to take an oblique approach towards both the technique and the subject, a kind of pictorial meta-language which he has continued to perfect and to develop into a highly sophisticated parallel.
One of the most disconcerting characteristics of Wang Xingwei’s pictorial production is the total lack of an aesthetic norm. When asked about it, he vaguely answered that he 'likes best paintings with strong colors'.”
Personal memories and vague social-political allegories fill the paintings of this period: He is Manchu not Han and life in the Chinese megalopolises left the young man from the North with some traumatic experiences. Despite his stubborn intelligence he must be a shy man.
No Return, 2006, acrylic on photographs, 400x400 cm
photo DSL collection
Seventeen years after the Tian'anmen debacle it became possible to comment on it publicly. Wang Xingwei describes the atmosphere.
"The first modern art
exhibition in China was held in 1989 at the National Art Museum of
China. Modern art was a disputed topic at that time,and the Chinese
government was not supportive of it. After a shooting between two
artists the exhibition was shut down. In spring of the same year,
began the infamous student activity, a turning point for the
development of Chinese society and modern art.
This work refers to a painting “A Snowy Day in 1968” by Cheng Conglin. It contemplated the violence among the youth during the Great Cultural Revolution and was considered as the manifesto of the"Scar Art Movement, (1979-82)"
I made some substitutions by editing and pasting on a computer. It was not carefully done and maintained its crude quality. This reflected the atmosphere of 1989. Spontaneously paintings were printed on lamp box cloth, and I made some changes [of Chen's painting] with acrylic."
Re-translated comments by Wang Xingwei
Some people consider Wang Xingwei a joker. He is much too serious for that. Comrade Xiao, (校 xiao is an officer's grade in the Red Army) of whom exist 4 versions, may be the funniest of his paintings, but he is making fun of himself, breasts included. It is really Hanzi, 汉字, the Jack-of-all-Trades with the goose that lays the golden eggs which Urs Meile tends at his gallery in Beijing.
Excepts from an interview with Nataline Connello at Urs Meile, Beijing, 2011
“I am focused on how to maximize
the value of form. By forming the image of the old lady again and
again I have squeezed out the maximum possibilities of this form, a
little like a capitalist wringing the maximum value from the masses.
The core issue of oil painting or even painting in general is how to
give form a conceptual and logical foundation. Everything else is of
secondary value – I ignore anything else, it is not the focus of my
In fact I always work with the aim of squeezing out value from form – this is my original starting point. Both fictional images and forms from reality are a starting point for me. They are all objects waiting for me to explore them; in fact all images are like this. Of course, other secondary values of these images also have important meanings and uses. I understand this fully and I don’t deny it, but these other values were not my original point of approach. In fact all paintings are the same; nothing is meaningless."
Forever the shy artist, Wang Xingwei presents himself again and again as a dispirited and depressed painter, untitled, we can only guess at his emotional problems. Carol Yinghua Lu, who is trying to lift Wang's psychological dilemma, compares him to Martin Kippenberger, and in fact there are probably more similarities between the two artists than she cares to explore. However, Kippenberger committed suicide and and Wang Xingwei is still alive. As Wang's preoccupation with the suicide of Wu Tao indicates, he may have played with that temptation. Last seen, Wang is watering his wife's flowerpot head, For him a good 'value'.